Although defining one’s life purpose is a task that cannot always be clearly defined (otherwise, things would be much simpler), I think I have found a general definition that I am willing to commit to. My life purpose is to ensure constant growth in various aspects of my personality. In everything I do, I would like to ask myself, “How does this contribute to my development?” There are multiple ways in which a person can grow, so I am not talking about some particular actions but rather an attitude. I want to make sure that, with every endeavor, I make a contribution to my intellectual, mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical development, thus becoming smarter, stronger, more enduring, more fulfilled, more satisfied, and more understanding. Therefore, I do not want to engage in activities that I know will not make me better in any way but will be a waste of time or—even worse—will deteriorate my characteristics. I find this life purpose worth trying to stick to because what I want to achieve is to become the best version of who I am over the years of my personal and professional life in the future.
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As any person engaging in interaction, I have faced conflicts, and the ones that I particularly recall every time are the conflicts between me and other people involved in a common project where we had to spend a lot of time together and come up with a lot of solutions really fast. The work was rather tense, and what I felt was that I thought I knew how everything needed to be done, so I was spending a lot of time trying to convince my teammates that I was right. We did not understand each other, and the atmosphere was rather nervous, as one of my teammates and I even yelled at each other at some point. After the end of the project, upon reflecting on my behavior, I realized that I really lacked the willingness to listen to other people’s points. It is not how I normally behave, but back then, decisions needed to be made quickly, so the pressure made me less flexible than I actually want to be. In fairness, my colleagues demonstrated a lack of patience and cooperation skills, too. I define those conflicts as conflicts of authoritarian nature: under pressure, we wanted to control things rather than to cooperate, and the way to resolve those conflicts is to adopt a more cooperative attitude.
Upon analyzing my personality, I have discovered that my biggest strength is compassion manifested in striving for understanding people. I highly appreciate this trait because I think it is very beneficial—not only in my personal life, as some may think, i.e. for building stronger personal relationships, but also in my profession. Successful performance largely depends on the ability to understand other people because, whatever one does, he or she almost inevitably deals with people, and the unwillingness or inability to understand what people you deal with want is a major barrier to being success. My major weakness is being committed to ideals, which is manifested in a lowered ability to compromise, tolerate failures in other people’s works, cooperate (because I tend to think I know what is better), and also cope with criticism. This weakness of mine is somewhat contradictory to my strength described above, but I do not think it is so uncommon for a person to have contradictory characteristics. Now that I understand this contradiction, I think I am more prepared to be working toward enhancing my strengths and applying them wisely while at the same time working on my weaknesses and trying to become more flexible.
This understanding of my strengths and weaknesses comes from my Types Test results. As a Harmony type, I have the feeling of balancing and looking for perfect proportions, which is why I am likely to be willing to listen to different people and try to reconcile their opinions and positions. However, being an Idealistic type at the same time, I may be the opposite of a Harmony type in a sense, since Idealistic types are often inflexible and not open enough to what other people have to say. I think being dedicated to perfect examples is important, but it should be alleviated if it prevents a person from successfully cooperating with other people, which is why I am glad I have discovered this contradiction in myself and reflected on it.
Reflecting on the Exercise
I think that this exercise is useful in terms of summarizing once again the characteristics of my personality I have discovered through recalling particular examples, such as conflicts I faced, and trying to address “big questions,” such as the question of the purpose of life. What makes this exercise good for team building is that people who will need to work together get to share and each expresses his or her experiences and attitudes on the same subjects, which is a large contribution to the mutual understanding. Not only people get to talk openly about issues that are relevant to their common work, but they can also identify problems that they have already faced or are likely to face, which will help avoid conflicts and increase cooperation in the future. This provides a common context in which future conflicts can be more successfully resolved. In other words, team members understand what words to use and what to refer to when addressing conflicts that may occur among them.
It was quite comfortable for me to reveal myself to the team because I knew that everyone was involved in the mutual self-disclosure, so everyone would get to reveal things about him or her. It was somewhat challenging to talk about conflicts and weaknesses, which is only natural I think, but I was not unwilling to do so because I understood the purpose of the exercise. A lesson that I learned was that leadership was much more connected to understanding people that one leads than it is usually thought.
Concerning changes in my life, I think I will try to become more disciplined by adopting more definitive scheduling and planning practices. I understand that it will require commitment and will possibly change my everyday habits, but I am up for the challenge. I think the exercise can be improved by creating an atmosphere where people are even less inhibited and more willing to talk about relevant issues. I think it can be done by extending the number of subjects that can be discussed and including those that the members of the team are likely to talk about in an informal way. I think the exercise has helped me in a recent conflict where I demonstrated a lack of patience: I decided to take more time to explain what I wanted and how I proposed to get it done, which allowed the reduction of tension because, previously in the conflict, I was acting rather inflexibly.